Becoming a part of a different universe

One of my favorite parts of reading a book is mentally enjoying a whole new universe created in the mind of an author. Some authors do it better than others, and I am often amazed at those that can really pull me out of the world I live in and make me a part of a different world. One of the first series of books that ever did that for me was the Landover series by Terry Brooks. I remember reading the first book as a kid and quickly becoming hooked. As I got older and more books in the series were released, it was always a delight to jump back into the other world and see how things have changed and what the characters are up to.

I recently finished reading the Mortal Engines series of books. These are great by the way, and I highly recommend them. I fell in love with the universe of Mortal Engines. The culture and styles of the different groups of people in the books were just awesome, and I really enjoyed the time I had to read about them. I didn’t realize how much I was enjoying this series until I reached the final book. I actually found myself a bit depressed that the story was over. The characters and world I had fallen in love with were no more. I was actually a bit surprised by my emotional reaction when I finished the last book in the series and that got me to thinking about other amazing universes I’ve been a part of over the years thanks to authors.

I have to admit that I really appreciate authors that are able to write such a compelling story and create a place that I can enjoy. It takes an even better author to make a place that I feel like I am a small part of it as well. I may not be an active participant, but I am an observer. One that feels connected to those I am reading about. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the author had continued to write books set in the same universe at just a different time. I haven’t started reading them yet, but it sounds like the next set of books are set quite a bit in the past. I’m thinking a prequel of sorts but far enough in the past that it kind of sets up some of the way people think in the original series. I was so happy to find out this information that I immediately set out to find them, so I could read them.

I think this is why I love books so much. The ability to mentally travel to so many different places, times, and dimensions. I can read about a distant futuristic society that drives entire cities around looking for resources one day and then read about a school for fairy tales the next. I had to laugh at that thought because I’ve been rotating between a few different series of books and that is kind of what I’ve been enjoying lately. Throw in a few books about government assassins and you have pretty much summed up what I have read this month so far, and it has been such a good month.

To Read or Not To Read

I was going over the New York Times Best Seller list when I noticed that Steve Berry had a new book out called The Malta Exchange. This is the 14th book in the Cotton Malone series. One that I have been enjoying, but I realized that I needed to catch up because it has been quite some time since I had read one of Steve Berry’s books. I knew that a couple had come out since I last read a book in the series, so I decided that I needed to figure out where I was in the series to pick up where I left off.

I pulled up my Goodreads list because I use that to keep track of what I have read since I don’t remember very well what I have or have not read. I pulled up the books for Cotton Malone and was shocked to see that I only have the first 2 of 14 books marked as read. This seemed very odd to me since many of the names of books 3, 4, 5, and 6 look very familiar to me. I also pulled up my Kindle library and sure enough. I have like five of the books in my library, which means I purchased them before and most likely read them. Steve Berry is not one I would buy and not read.

The problem is, I read the synopsis of the books that I have, and I can’t honestly remember them at all. I’m not too surprised because I do suffer a bit from memory loss, which is why I like to keep a list of what I have read. I hate picking up a new book and reaching like page 50 or 60 to discover that I know the story and have read it before. I know most people don’t have an issue with reading a book they have read before, but I’m always on the hunt for the new stuff. Kind of a weird flex that I have, but that is me. So now I have this dilemma. Do I just read over the books again or do I just move on to what I don’t have in my library. Maybe I’m overthinking this a bit much. I mean it won’t hurt to revisit a book I’ve read in the past.

I guess on the bright side, I don’t have to worry about buying the books or tracking them down at a library because I already own them. I will probably end up just reading the series starting at book 3 because that is the first one that I haven’t marked as read. It kind of annoys me though because I’ve been working on my Goodreads list for quite some time now and would think that I would have made a mistake like that. I’m sure I overlooked something.

Guess this means I will be reading a lot of Steve Berry in the coming months. I’ve been working on Barry Eisler since the beginning of January to get to a book that I got then. Nothing like a bunch of thrillers to get me through the rest of this winter and into the spring.

Enthusiasts Ruining The Fun

I recently ran across a blog post called Have enthusiast taken the fun out of Roller Coasters? where the author wonders if enthusiasts have forgotten the reason they became enthusiasts: because they love roller coasters. Everything has become debates and nitpicking and overanalyzing of coasters to the point where it doesn’t seem fun anymore. The point of it was going to a park and riding a roller coaster you enjoy or riding a coaster you haven’t had the chance to enjoy yet.

I kind of feel the same way. I’ve been running a website for 15 years centered around the only amusement park here in Utah: Lagoon. For the most part, I enjoy it and have enjoyed it, or I wouldn’t have been running it that long. The problem is there are those that are so invested in wanting to know everything and being right about everything that the enjoyment of the park that brought us together as a group kind of goes out the window. Instead it becomes this debate. The past few months on my site have been very tedious and annoying because of all the fighting that goes on. I’ve never understood it myself because we are there to discuss something we love. It really does make it hard to want to continue.

I’m actually considering phasing out of the enthusiast side of my life and just going back to enjoying myself again. No worries about getting the latest pictures or wondering what is going to happen next. Just show up, enjoy some rides and the park atmosphere, and go home. I had a similar experience of that back in October. I went to Disney World for the first time in my life, and it was the first time I had ever been to a Disney park. I went with my wife and we went and just had fun running around experiencing things. I took pictures because I wanted to not because I needed to get them to share with others on my website. I rode rides and made comments about them on social media when I felt like. It was so refreshing and it allowed me to experience things in a way that I hadn’t in a long time: as a normal fan.

This year is going to be an interesting one for me. I haven’t decided if I’m going to get a pass to my local park this year or not. I’m leaning towards not getting one this year and doing others things instead and getting some new experiences for myself.

Random Thought On Taxes

I was browsing through my Twitter feed when I came across this tweet that had been retweeted by someone that I follow:

I then read the article which talks about how Amazon is not going to pay anything in federal taxes for 2018. I then started reading some of the comments about it, and I noticed a trend. It seemed like many people wanted to take this news and attack rich people about it, but I had a completely different takeaway. The article mentions all the loopholes in the tax code that companies like Amazon use to avoid paying as much taxes as possible, and I agree. This has been the case for many years. Most people will use this to say we need to raise taxes on people, but I have another suggestion. Why not simplify the tax code? The reason Amazon can get away from not paying any taxes is because the tax code is too complicated already, so they can hire a massive team of people who spend too much time trying to figure every oversight written into the tax code to figure out how to benefit the company.

I really think we should just make it simple. Imagine telling every business in America that they needed to pay somelike like 10% in federal taxes on their profit? That is it. That’s all the tax code needs to say and 10% of Amazon’s $11.2 billion is now $1.2 billion in taxes. That seems like a simple solution. I don’t understand why this can’t be worked out. Then we don’t have to fret over are they paying enough or too little.

That’s just my random thought after reading Twitter today.

Linux Dualboot No More

Well, my experiment to see if I could switch over to Linux on my desktop computer has come to an end. My goal was to see what kind of gaming I could do, and I could never get my graphics card working to acceptable standards. Everything I played showed up looking more pixelated or slower than I was hoping, so I’ve decided to go back to just running Windows on this machine and keeping Linux on my other machines. That seems to work best for me.

My next goal is to find a decent graphics card that will work well with Linux. Based on what I was seeing, it almost looks like Nvidia seems to have the better drivers for Linux gaming. I am currently running an AMD card and not a massively powerful one at that, so I think it might be time to switch to Nvidia and get my Linux gaming on!

I’m not sure when I will be able to get a new card, but I think it is time to start saving up for one!

More Barry Eisler?!

If you have been following my posts, you know that I have been working on reading through the John Rain series by Barry Eisler. I started reading from book one last month when I picked up book #10 in the John Rain series from Amazon First Reads. I figured I might as well start at the beginning, which has been going well. I love the character. The series has been really good, and I’m currently on book 4.

Today I got an email from Goodreads announcing new books by authors I follow. Since I started following Barry Eisler on Goodreads, I got the email about his new book The Killer Collective, which is the book I already have since you get books on First Reads a month early, but the email added something that I had not seen before when I looked at the book on Amazon. The subject line read: The Killer Collective (John Rain #10; Livia Lone #3; Ben Treven #4).

Wait … John Rain #10, Livia Lone #3, and Ben Treven #4? The Killer Collective is a book that falls into three different series?! I had to check this out. Sure enough, Barry Eisler has also been working on a series following a character known as Livia Lone and one called Ben Treven. Well this though a wrench into the engine because my goal was to read all the John Rain books before I read the 10th one. Now I find out that I need to read the others (I don’t have to, but I like to read stuff in order), so I started trying to figure out the read order from where I was at. I started going off by published dates and figured out a read order and stumbled across a second book that includes both John Rain and Ben Treven.

Holy cow. I have never encountered this by an author before. I am fascinated by this development and can’t wait to see how this plays out. I also have to chuckle that my 10 book reading binge has now turned into a 15 book (technically 14 and 1 short story) reading binge of Barry Eisler stories.

And for those of you that are curious, here is the reading order list I came up with for Barry Eisler’s books:

  1. A Clean Kill in Tokyo (John Rain #1)
  2. A Lonely Resurrection (John Rain #2)
  3. Winner Take All (John Rain #3)
  4. Redemption Games (John Rain #4)
  5. Extremis (John Rain #5)
  6. The Killer Ascendant (John Rain #6)
  7. Fault Line (Ben Treven #1)
  8. Inside Out (Ben Treven #2
  9. Paris Is A Bitch (John Rain 6.5)
  10. The Detachment (John Rain #7, Ben Treven #3)
  11. Graveyard Memories (John Rain #8)
  12. Livia Lone (Livia Lone #1)
  13. Zero Sum (John Rain #9)
  14. The Night Trade (Livia Lone #2)
  15. The Killer Collective (John Rain #10, Ben Treven #4, Livia Lone #3)

Linux Mint on the Main Machine

I went ahead and set up the dual boot on my main computer with Linux Mint running alongside Windows 10. This is the first part of testing to see if I can finally move into a Linux environment completely. Linux Mint has been a popular environment for me over the past three or four years, so I tend to go back to it. Although, I was very tempted to try elemental OS that I’ve been hearing about so much, but I chose to hold off for now. Maybe I can put elemental OS on one of my other machines and give it a try.

Something interesting happened when I put Linux Mint on my main computer that I had never encountered before. Usually, the Grub menu gets installed and detects Windows just fine, and I don’t have to worry about dealing with it manually. This time around the Grub menu picked Windows boot partition to be the first boot option, which I had slightly anticipated because I chose to go the UEFI route with this install. Right in the installation documentation for Linux Mint is a small troubleshooting page that mentions this and provides the solution. I just had to reboot back onto the flash drive and tell the Grub menu what order I wanted for my boot menu.

I thought that would be the end of it, but the next time I restarted my computer, the Windows bootloader popped up and put me back into Windows. I was scratching my head at that one because I had just made the change in Grub. I plugged my flash drive in again and when I was I brought up the boot menu from the motherboard to boot into the flash drive again, I noticed the motherboard boot menu was listing Linux Mint (showing as ubuntu) as an option. That made me wonder if I had to also change the option on my motherboard, so I loaded the BIOS and checked. Sure enough, the motherboard still had Windows selected, so I changed it to get it working the way I want.

My previous two motherboards had never needed me to change the option before, so it kind of came as a surprise. The motherboard I have in my computer now is one I picked up recently, so maybe it is a newer thing or maybe I’ve just gotten lucky over the years. Either way, it’s working now and running just fine. I figured I would share this experience in the event some other user encounters it too and is trying to search up a fix.

The next step in my test is to see if I can backup some of my Steam games in Windows and restore them in Linux. I did find some information on how to share a folder between two operating systems, so I would assume performing the backup in Steam in Windows and then restoring it using Steam in Linux would work. Time will tell.

Pondering Full Switch to Linux Mint

I’ve been using Windows 10 as my primary OS since Windows 10 was released with the occasional periods where I would dual boot my PC with Linux Mint. In the last year, I’ve stuck to running just Windows on my primary PC and Mint on my older laptop. I didn’t see the need to dual boot the main computer anymore and figured that I would just stick to a single OS, but I really want to run Mint on my main PC again, so I’m now wondering if I could finally make the jump off of Windows completely and move my main PC to Mint.

My only hesitation is some of the software that I run, but I find myself running the Windows-dependent software less and less these days sticking to stuff that can run either via the web or using software available for both Windows and Mint. Gaming was a big part of the holdout to this point, but I haven’t gamed much on my main computer in the last half year. I understand that Steam has made some big improvements in that area making it possible to run some Windows-only games in a Linux environment now. I’d love to see how that works.

So, I’ve decided that maybe I should bring back the dual boot on my machine for a month or two and see if I can stick to using just Mint for now. I want to run a few experiments with my hardware to see what the performance looks like. I recently installed a new motherboard and processor, which I haven’t run on Mint yet. I also want to test the new Steam capabilities with games. If I can get things working in a satisfactory state, I think I will finally be able to make the jump off of Windows and run everything on Mint.

It will definitely be an interesting move and one I’m curious to see how it will play out. I plan to share what happens and what I experience making this change.

Book review: Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve

Cover of the book Predator's Gold by Philip ReeveI just finished reading the second book in the Mortal Engines series called Predator’s Gold. It was a really good addition to the first book, and I enjoyed quite a bit. I’m still in love with the world of Mortal Engines because it has a slightly silly feel to it as a futuristic dystopian novel. I always get a kick out of what the future dwellers think of the stuff that happened before the 60-minute war.

Book two picks up a couple of years after the events of the first book. Tom and Hester have become aviators and fly around trading with others and exploring the world. Things are going well for them until they are discovered by a faction of the anti-traction league and become a target. While trying to escape, their airship becomes damaged, and they end up taking refuge on the traction city Anchorage. It’s there that Tom starts to feel at home and Hester fears that she may lose Tom as he comes to love the city.

Predator’s Gold has some nice action in it almost right off at the start. The new characters introduced in this book are quite fascinating. I especially like the citizens of Anchorage and the crazy Professor Pennyroyal and his outlandish adventures. I was surprised to see a character from the first book return that I wasn’t expecting. I won’t mention who it is because I think it is a nice surprise. And much like the first book, Tom and Hester find themselves fighting for their lives a few different times.

I would definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy dystopian novels and partial love stories. Read the first book before this one though. I feel like there is some stuff the reader requires to truly understand some of the events in the second one, but that isn’t too bad because then you get to enjoy two books!

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